Monday, March 30, 2015

Herb Ritts at the MFA

"I like form and shape and strength in pictures." ~Herb Ritts (1952-2002)
As a Millennial, I admit I wasn't truly aware of the trailblazing work set by American photographer, Herb Ritts. Famous for his iconic black and white photographs of celebrities and supermodels including Naomi Campbell, Madonna, Drew Barrymore, and Cindy Crawford, Ritts is forever intertwined with '90s pop culture. From Vogue, to Polo Ralph Lauren, Rolling Stones, and Valentino, Ritts became a master of fashion and commercial photography, yet his work transcended that of magazine covers and advertisements. Ritts became influential for his music videos and commercials in the late '80s and went on to direct over 13 music videos and 500 commercials throughout his lifetime. His igneous eye for clean lines, bold forms, abstract textures, and striking shadows didn't end at human bodies though; Ritts also enjoyed capturing the rich textures and forms of the environment in its simplest and purest states of beauty. California was often his destination of choice, and his favorite locations in Malibu, L.A., and Point Dume helped make California's dusty, sunny terrains the prime location for fashion advertisements and editorials of the '90s.

An openly gay man, Ritts died of pneumonia in 2002 from a weakened immune system due to AIDS. 
His death has been a true loss to the intersecting fashion, commercial, and entertainment worlds of pop culture, but the spirit of his work lives on in museum exhibitions across the globe. Currently, the Museum of Fine Arts has an exhibit solely dedicated to Ritts that explores every aspect of his career. Almost twenty years after the MFA hosted a wildly successful 1996 exhibit celebrating Ritts, the Ritts Foundation has honored the MFA with gifts that allow 248 of his photographs to be on display from now until November. The largest museum holdings of Ritts photographs, the exhibit showcases some of his most iconic photographs including Madonna, Tokyo, Tatjana Veiled Head, Tight View, and my favorite, the Versace Dress, Back View. I was truly mesmerized by the magical way Ritts seems to capture the raw beauty and inner spirit of his subjects in a powerful yet unostentatious light. 
I highly recommend visiting the MFA exhibit from now until November 8th.

Special thank you to the MFA for inviting me to visit this exhibit.  

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